Hotter Than Hell: M:O:A Festival 2022

Quiet and relaxed – the camp on Thursday early afternoon.

Summer has come to the Hessian hinterlands and so have some 1200 metalheads to celebrate the M:O:A festival after two years break. While a soft breeze blows over the wheat fields next to the camp the sun burns merciless. Read our preview [click here] to find out what we hoped to get and compare with the reality.

The festival is sort of family meeting, managed and run by H.M.C. M.I.S.E. e.V., whose headquarters are just down the road in this picturesque countryside place. The crowd is just as stubborn as the reputation of the average hessian native: Once the plan was taken to attend M:O:A and a ticket bought not even a pandemic can stop them, delay perhaps. But that’s it. So here they are.

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Sunny Sunburn Thursday

Traditional Opening Ceremony

Marco gives us the Rockin Kids

The official opening comes with a traditional ritual: beer for free drawn from a freshly installed tap right in front of the stage. But before stage manager Marco hammers the tap into the barrel he and the local mayor as well as her successor – both politicians seem frequent guests in the opening ceremony – give a short speech. How good it is to finally meet here with all our friends in front of an actual festival stage again! Once the beer runs down the throats of the crowd, on stage the Rockin Kids, a band of mostly teenaged kids, kick of the musical program. It is the band project of the near-by Rock- und Pop-Werkstatt take over. Most of the Rockin Kids change over the program, only the drummer, Julius hits his drums throughout the whole 60 minutes slot. Three girl singers perform greatly, the youngest, a primary school girl named Elisabeth even performs one solo song. She is accompanied by her brother Julian on his keyboards who most of the gig plays guitar. He is the youngest of the string wielders. Their set list comprises primarily cover songs such as from Pink to Metallica but also two songs, Julian wrote himself.


Final Breath



Dust Bolt

Summer Outfit:  Fur Coat

The traditional opening pulled a remarkable number of folks to the stage most of which remained there throughout the entire Rockin Kids gig. Just to make sure: this exceeds the beer-for-free availability by far. As appreciative the crowd is with the next generation musicians, as quick are they to escape into the shade once they end.

Remarkably many prefer the shadow over the Bust Art gig. The guys from Hanau play their hard-rocking, heavy, quick set with all the fun a band can have on stage. Still I wonder, I really do, how their bass player managed to play in a fur coat even if only for the first song.

The sun is unforgiving so that the local fire fighters watering the crowd automatically become the heroes of the day!

Death Metal Unicorn

The sun dries the crowd in a whiff even before Final Breath enter stage at half past five. They let the Death Metal rule though quite some Thrash motives spice the very fast and extra hard set. Interestingly the four piece combo performs with two guitars, a vocalist and a drummer. No bass. Their infernal speed, however, leaves no space to miss the four-stringer.

[Z-SES09] – or insanity rules

With the Swedish Symphonic Extreme Metallists Zornheym an undeniable highlight of the line-up enters the stage. Tomas Nilsson aka Zorn left Dark Funeral to start something new approximately seven or eight years back. He did no less than making an old dream of his come true: a concept band around a mental asylum. What we experience on stage is innovative but even more expressive, explosively filled with emotions. Zornheym also comes with two guitarists but no bass player (read more about it in the interview Zorn, here).  Some well-positioned backing orchestrations add to the instruments live on stage. The absolute highlight however is the vocalist Richard Bendler who enters the stage dressed up as inmate [Z-SES09] of the Zornheym me(n)tal asylum. His voice is strong, sonorous, variable and his expressive acting skills shift the show on a theatrical level. They play numerous songs from their recent concept album dealing with insomnia-induced insanity. It is a pity that only few of the audience withstand the burning sun to experience this incredible act!

Grave Digger

Grave Digger



Furious Sundown

Squealer’s home base is more or less in the neighbourhood and it’s obvious they are part of the MISE family.  Thus, they have become a traditional act on the M:O:A stage. The challenge is similar to that of Zornheym: only the toughest metalheads are withstanding the sun in front of the stage.  Again the headcount of the crowd does not resemble the quality of the gig. Despite Squealer’s catchy guitar riffs and emotional vocals, both delivered in the expectedly amazing performance, today their highlight comes from their rhythm department. Those basslines deserve explicit mentioning all the more as the past two bands had no bass player on stage!

It’s almost nine pm and slowly, the sun loosens its grip on the in-field as a magical force seems to pull folks out of their hiding to the stage. Why? To be honest, I had not heard of Dust Bolt before. Forgive my lacking knowledge of the German metal scene, as admittedly my focus is Finnish metal. Dust Bolt are not to be forgotten ever again. Their show is filled with bursting emotions, explosive stage activity and thrilling music. Thrash metal, like it or not, Dust Bolt will get you, force your feet to move and make your head bang nonetheless. Where they shred the stage none is left resting. So who cares about boiling heat? Dust Bolt make their crowd slave to the rhythm!

Until the lights go out

Master have come a long way. A really long way in time and space – founded in the 1980’s in the USA. Great-grandfather of Death Metal, Mr Speckmann has come to play and that’s what he does. His bass playing is phenomenal. There will be few of his skill and talent. His show has the unlikeliness of a hobbit as he seems too short for the height of his microphone. And yet he is an unstoppable force all the same. Literally. Neither age, nor heat and even less the end of his slot can stop him. Nothing but the unheard ‘click’ of a button switched to off, draining the source of energy of his equipment ends the Master’s show – approximately three songs later than scheduled.

Thursday’s headliner, Grave Digger have no chance to outplay Master’s mega performance although they play a full set. The veterans deliver a decent show, no doubt about that and naturally the crowd loves it.


Sauna Sunstroke Friday

The program begins around noon and it is even hotter than on Thursday. For me this means, I have to cancel some of the early gigs. Apologies.



Hammer King


Spanish Dynamite

As I arrive – still in the heat of the mid-afternoon, the Spanish metal queen Patricia Ponte rules the stage already. Her presence is magical and yet her Synlakross band-mates match with her. Groovy bass, melodic guitars, powerful vocals, solid drums and a strong connection to the crowd make their gig. It feels like their first-ever outside-of-spain gig, guitarist Iván Muñoz tells me later as I run into him and drummer Dan Shurak. I ask them about the challenging conditions, thinking of the heat. The weather is perfect, Iván says and tells me that they have come all the way to play only this one gig this weekend. “It is worth it”, he says.

Unexpected Encounter

At this moment Red Stone Chapel were planned to claim the stage but life, or more precisely disease happens and so Sapiency step in. They just made it as also their guitarist can only play carefully minding his freshly injured knee. Two vocalists scream their souls out while their instrumental mates deliver a powerful modern melodic death tunes set. While they give everything on stage the crowd mostly hides in the shade. Speaking of hiding in the shade: that’s where I met Oli aka Odin Grimbart whom I interviewed (check out here).

Audience With The Hammer King

As the force of the sun seems to loosen its burning grip on us, his Royal Highness, the Allmighty Hammer King and his most metal entourage claim the only true Iron Throne: the stage. Northern mythology mixed with Scottish folk motives underlined by something between Power Metal and NWOBHM with fantastic clean vocals bring a very welcome variability into the rather Thrash-dominated festival line-up. The vocalist is an amazing entertainer with plenty of tales to tell between the songs. A fresh and even refreshing gig in the heat. Very welcome.





Gaudi and Guitars

With Antipeewee the second female musician enters stage. Shining Coralie could easily be taken for the younger sister of the magnificent Nita Strauss. And just like her Cora is adored by the crowd. She delivers some very impressive solos. I better not forget to mention the cool bass lines and really entertaining vocalist, demanding the crowd to finally shake off the heat-induced rigid. 

In Thrash We Trust

Back to Thrash and metal veterans. Assassin take over and set the stage on fire in a sort of an old-school-metal-gentleman manner. Their chemistry is the essential spark to let the energy fuel the crowd, too. Plainly there is nothing better in the world than to play metal on a hot-summer-festival stage for the Assassins.

Some Danish dynamite detonates into the growing beer-blissed conviviality. “In Thrash We Trust”, it smashs from Michael’s vocal chords. Some dance, some bang, some mosh, some chat and some simply stand and watch – to Artillery’s droning bass and shredding riffs a relaxed festival atmosphere spreads as the temperature is finally at the point of being bearable.

We are approaching midnight and tonight’s headliner are none less than Rage. Peavy’s stage presence is still most impressive. He and his remarkably younger band mates deliver a passionate show filled with a well-chosen list of songs from roughly 40 years of band history by now. A thundering end of today’s program.


Oven-roasted Beer-madness Saturday

Hell itself couldn’t be any hotter than this Saturday as merciless the planet roasts everything in a whiff daring to leave the protective shade. After two days (and for some already three nights) of heavy partying and balancing the loss of sweat with an overload of beer, sunburn merged with sunstroke have resulted in beer-madness. Only the kids are still running to and fro as happy as can be. Goodness, how I envy their energy!


Profet powered by Äppler



Burden Of Grief

Burden Of Sun

I arrive when Burden Of Grief play their last songs in front of a resilient bunch of condition-ignoring metalheads. The line telling bravery from madness is very thin and certainly well-wetted in beer today.

I have arrived in time to experience the last of the very few female metallists on stage: Lise. Her attempts to give us an evil face melt in the sun but Profet’s melodic intermezzos make up for the torturous heat. And do I hear there a Kashmir riff played by the bass? Vocalist Philip leaves announcing some of the songs to Lise who full heartedly gives us: a song about the revenge on society. Haven’t we all a need for this, she asks. As her words echo in my mind, I remember something Martin (from the M:O:A crew) mentioned about a surprising share of metal heads being unexpectedly conservative. How does that go together?  

Solar-charged Necrosis

Necrotted shred those heavy thoughts away. They celebrate the fact to be finally on stage as they had hoped and planned to play here twice what we-all-know-what made impossible. Once more I wonder, how anybody could manage to deliver such an energy wasting show in this oven?

Once the stage is set for Toxik, I can see them giving one another and then also some of the stage crew an honestly warm-hearted hug before they kick off their gig. Vocalist Ron Iglesias bursts with energy, jumps, runs, bangs, plays jokes on his band mates, ahh and yes, by any chance he has some energy left to deliver his vocals, too. His youth might explain this drive to waste energy as he wasn’t even born when Josh Christian and his former band mates founded the band in the mid1980s. Ron’s heart-warming – as if it wasn’t too hot already – persona reflects also in his reference to the later co-headliner:

The sweetest, most awesome fucking guys with whom we’ve been touring for one month now, Heathen! (Ron Iglesias/Toxik)



Black Messiah



Pagan – Attitude Rules

Oli ‘Odin Grimbart’ and Pete/Black Messiah messing with HM Rock, the metal moomin.

As Asenblut bring their merch in boxes to the stall someone whispers into my ear: “Pure testosterone to rule the stage.” At this moment, I stand – once more – next to the shady bench. Oli is there and with him a relaxed Pete from Black Messiah. Oli switches the cam on his cell phone on and hands it over to me. I have no idea what he is up to. “What is metal“, Oli asks Pete inspired from our conversation little earlier, as I film them for Oli’s YouTube channel (click here to watch the Oli’s MOA review). 

Back to Asenblut, who made it on stage by now. It was easy to share some more bitter jokes here or refer longer to the Disney-hero-shaped body. But think what you will of their music and lyrics, they prove to have a very appreciative attitude towards their fans and the festival crew! There is no blaming or whining but a pragmatic perspective on the current situation. Sticking to facts as objective as can be has become rare and is all the more welcome! Thank you Tetzel!

Compromising Fashion

Black Messiah is perhaps together with Hammer King the most exotic combo on stage this weekend. The name would suggest darkest black metal, some of their more recent releases, however, have a bit of folky tune. Vocalist Zagan excuses their casual, ‘unmetal’ shorts to adept to the heat and still deliver a proper set which they do, a quite vibrant set, indeed. Zagan plays not only guitar and bass but also violin and mandolin and some accordion is provided from the backing tracks. The colourful mix and the vivid show moves the crowd.

The sweetest, most awesome fucking guys

Toxik and Heathen literally share the stage and the drummer. Jim DeMaria is an impressive person. Playing two full sets in 16 shows within 18 days all over Europe is a f*! tough job. Apparently he is also one of those drummers who is a bit particular with his instrument, as not only he oversees the set up and change over carefully, but remains always on full alert to take immediate action on the details only he would see. Metal drummers really deserve a lot more attention from us and Jim DeMaria makes a good example why.

Even on the final gig of such a demanding tour, Toxik’s Ron takes the opportunity to watch the Heathen gig from the side of the stage. While speed and shredding rule on stage, the pleasant temperatures give space for a pretty relaxed atmosphere in the crowd.

Grande Finale

The final change over seems not to come to an end. But then Vader have just made it here more or less on time with their flight massively delayed. Thus there is no opportunity to run a first check back stage as Heathen still play. Consequently Vader’s set up and sound check seem to last forever and delay their gig. So when finally their intro announces their gig to begin Saturday is practically over. Rain and roaring thunder echo from stage – a mere wish after the hot weekend but also an appropriate setting for the raging shredding to come. A grande final, a worthy celebration and a remarkable symbolism: some finest extreme metal from the lords of darkness after two extreme years and in dark and finally cool air of the night.


Off Stage Notes

Family Fields

As important as the artists on stage are, to me in the end the people off stage make the festival. I really enjoyed all the families around. From toddlers to grannies – they are all here and have a good time. No need to mention that the security’s most important job is to support the paramedics as the mix of beer and heat keeps the medical crew really busy. Otherwise it is the expected peaceful atmosphere and few effort for the security. Anyway due to the heat no one has energy to waste on any sort of violence.

The Louder The Better?

Although almost all kids wore an ear protection I admit that to my liking, too few of them had an appropriate ear protection. I need to mention this because the music was too loud, too. I might accept that especially after the infernal break the hunger for loud metal from an actual stage needs to be satisfied but the taped music in the change-over breaks was too loud too. Because, f*! We haven’t met in a crowd for years and long to speak with another, too. Additionally at least the basses were overdriven too. In particular during the later gigs, I wasn’t able to tell the bass lines from the dull hammering the overdriven loud speakers delivered. Honestly my best spot to listen to the music to me was my car parked a little over the hill. I am very aware that most of you will insist on: the louder the better – at least those I spoke on the M:O:A with did!


Rewards of Loyalty

The heat takes its toll with the crowd hiding in shade mostly.

After two years of planning but not running the festival, the true value of long-term relations with contractors showed. Some of the providers of all the stuff and staff needed from portable loos to stage scaffolds, from technicians to bar tenders, had reserved the ‘usual M:O:A order’ long before the crew actually was allowed to place it. And still the parallel occurrence of war, refugees, rising building activities and returning events demanded several ultra-phone-marathons to make the festival work in the very end. Beyond commercial connections the M:O:A crew has always kept bonds with neighbouring Heavy Metal and Motor Cycle Clubs. It was them who stood in when needed and additionally provided perhaps even the lion share of the crowd. With this pretty much everybody-knowing-everybody the family-like atmosphere can also be explained easily.

The Wish List

The best news there is and can be: the ticket sales for M:O:A 2023 (ticket sales here) are about to begin! Despite all the challenges in the past years, the crew decided to go on! A cosy camp site, a good line up and fair weather made the festival a great time for the crowd. There is no reason to complain about our working conditions on the M:O:A festival. Of course there is always a virtual wish list but in 2022, what matters way more than is that M:O:A took place! No administrational reaction to the ongoing pandemic, and no financial difficulties and no lack of material or (wo)menpower stopped the M:O:A crew. They made it work. And they made it work greatly! 

In A Brave New World?

Dying swans, twisted wings

Time out … could there be any better spot in the world to take a nap?

It must have been Friday night, while Rage played. And I must admit I am still impressed by Peavy’s performance and charisma. Anyway I was standing on the side a bit off the crowd and watched a fellow photographer taking some more photos. He aimed at the stage so I suppose he intended to shoot the crowd’s perspective minding no to disturb anybody. Nevertheless someone blinded him intending to stop him. This blinder expressed his resentments against public media, as I overheard as they spoke.

This annoying incident reflects some recent attitude of rudeness towards whatever is considered establishment. The best I can say about it is that it remained peaceful. But why not simply speak in an appropriate manner with each other? And to all of you out there who share the blinder’s resentments: 95 % of the media folks you will meet on 90 % of the metal events have never received any money for their reporting but spent plenty of money, time and effort. You want to keep your beer and tickets affordable? Then let us promote the events so hopefully enough of you will come next time and maybe some more sponsors support the managers, too.

Where is Salvation Now?

The world has changed. There can be no doubt. The pandemic changed it and the ongoing war in Ukraine has. None of us would know the end of it. So more than ever, instead of bullying and feeding the whatever-sort of gaps we need to stand together and party while we can. Three Heavy Metal Club MISE members passed away in the pandemic. There is never going to be a tomorrow for them ever again. We might have it but certainly not if we fight another.

The Remains Of The Day(s)

Dust Bolt
Black Messiah

From the distance of my desk, thinking back of some acts make me smile a little more than the rest. The theatrical tour through the Zornheym mental asylum, the explosive energy of Dust Bolt (playing in Marburg on July 20th, btw.) and Toxik, the cheerful lightness of the Hammer King’s reign and the Black Messiah(s). Although I found only three ladies on stage throughout the festival, their performance overbalanced their numbers by far. Thank you Lise (Profet), Patricia (Synlakross) and Coralie (Antipeewee)!   

I have always been a friend of small festivals and small clubs. No whatsoever big lineup can outweigh the eye contact with the musicians on stage. What do you get on Wacken-sized festival? No guarantee you can even enter the in-field when your favourite gig plays? If you get access watching the gig on over-sized screens as all you can see on stage has the size of starving ants. Going back to your camp takes more than half an hour and buying a drink on the in-field equals the expenses of a reasonable investment? Small festivals like M:O:A come with a familiar atmosphere, short distances between everything and fair rates. The people running the festival put all their passion into it. Unprofessional in this regard means making a good festival has top priority even over financial success. You will feel this in every detail. So, see you on M:O:A 2023!

You Rule

My closing paragraph is to the bands I have missed. I am truthfully sorry that I missed your gigs: Steelpreacher, Torturebitch, Soulshifter, Fail and Black Knight. But I will not miss to appreciate your performance. You were so much braver than I was: playing on stage when the sun burned the hottest and thus most of us will have hidden in the shade. You Rule. This is the Metal Way Of Life!


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